Interpol elects Kim Jong-yang of South Korea as its president
Russian candidate Alexander Prokopchuk, widely considered the role's frontrunner, beaten to the post
Interpol elected Kim Jong-yang of South Korea as its president on Wednesday, beating a controversial Russian national considered the frontrunner for the job.
Member states elected Mr Kim to succeed China's Meng Hongwei, who disappeared in September and was later confirmed as having been detained by Chinese authorities on allegations of bribery.
Meeting in Dubai for their annual congress, Interpol, whose role is to facilitate cooperation between police forces around the world, said Mr Kim, who had been serving as acting president, had been elected for a two-year term.
It also announced that for the first time an Emirati police officer - Major General Nasser Al Raisi - had been voted on to its executive council.
“Our world is now facing unprecedented changes which present huge challenges to public security and safety,” Mr Kim said in a statement.
“To overcome them, we need a clear vision: we need to build a bridge to the future.”
Mr Kim beat Russian candidate Alexander Prokopchuk, who has been accused of abusing Interpol’s arrest warrant system to target critics of the Kremlin.
Mr Prokopchuk’s potential election led to concern in Europe and America about the possibility of Russia being able to exploit the organisation’s power.
Commenting on the election result, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia regretted “that it wasn't our candidate, but nonetheless there are no grounds to disagree with the election result".
Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and prominent member of the European Parliament, had warned that "democratic and free countries may need to develop a parallel organisation" should Mr Prokopchuk be elected.
"Russia has consistently misused Interpol to pursue its political opponents," he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Interpol's charter forbids it from involving itself in disputes of a political, religious or racial nature. It is not a supranational police force and has no agents who are allowed to make arrests.
Mr Kim, 57, worked in the South Korean police for more than 20 years before retiring in 2015.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-in congratulated him on becoming the first South Korean to head the organisation.
"We're very proud. I, together with our people, am sending congratulations," Mr Moon wrote on Twitter.
On Tuesday, the United States said it supported Mr Kim to lead the agency after a group of US senators accused Russia of exploiting the global body to settle scores and harass dissidents.
In response, the Kremlin claimed that public opposition to their candidate by a group of US senators amounted to election meddling.
Since the UAE joined Interpol in 1973 it has consistently expressed its commitment to international law enforcement co-operation through combatting terrorism and drug trafficking.
UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, tweeted his congratulations to Maj Gen Al Raisi, praising the UAE's contribution to the international community.
“We congratulate Major General Nasser Al Raisi for his election as a member of the Interpol executive committee," he said.
"Emirati experts are participating in international organisations with all competence and their success is a reflection of UAE’s success.”
Updated: November 21, 2018 07:38 PM